compare & contrast

My Awesome! Attempt At: A Rainbow Birthday Cake

So, Munchkin and I are huge rainbow fans.

rainbowWhat’s not to like? They’re so colorful and bright!

Also, even though Munchkin has many favorite movies, she only has one favorite movie soundtrack. Can you guess what it is?

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Ironically, her favorite song is not “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (although it is a favorite of mine). It’s probably a tie between “The Jitterbug” and the song Glinda sings when she meets Dorothy.

Just like favorite movies, Munchkin has the hardest time picking a favorite princess. For the longest time her favorite princess has been Cinderella (as you can plainly see here). Some days it’s Rapunzel, other days it’s Aurora, but nine times out of ten, it’s Cinderella. When we went to Disneyland and she had a princess makeover she could have dressed up as anyone. Who did she pick?


Yep. I’m assuming it’s because Cinderella was the first Disney movie we ever watched but who knows? Cinderella is so iconic and her story is so well known…well, I’ll save that for another blog…

Anyway, for Munchkin’s  fourth birthday, I wanted to do something special. This was going to be a tough birthday for me, emotionally. Not only was my baby growing up but it was the first time I’d ever tried throwing a party completely on my own.  I was financially unstable and utterly heart broken but I wanted to do something amazing for Munchkin, something that she’d remember for more than a few days

So it started with cupcakes at her daycare:


Those were by far, the easiest thing to make. I picked the boxed strawberry cake mix (so they’d be pink) and after baking them, I frosted them with my homemade cream cheese frosting.

Yummy! Fluffy cream cheese frosting!

Yummy! Fluffy cream cheese frosting!

The rainbows were just Airhead candies I found at the 7-11 by my job, cut into smaller, cupcake friendly sizes.

20130216-021718.jpgI’m pretty sure I got the idea on Pinterest since I know that’s where I went to for ideas. In fact, when you compare mine to the pinterest ones…

definitely not a fail

So, yes! I was definitely feeling confident. Especially since I had just made the most perfect cream cheese frosting in existence. While browsing pinterest, I had come across these lovely beauties:


This is actually a necklace, but still!

SO cool!

If you click the link of that last picture, they actually give you step by step directions on how to make the cake. It’s pretty straightforward, pick the type of cake you want (anything light colored will work, chocolate, obviously won’t), follow the instructions on the box, add food coloring and voila!

Rainbow Cake!

Rainbow Cake!

Decorate to your heart’s content! Pinterest, again, has a lot of great ideas!

rainbow cakes copy

I know you’re wondering what all of this has to do with Cinderella, right? Well, so did I. For inspiration, I put Cinderella on for Munchkin while I frosted the cake and right at the beginning of the movie, inspiration hit!

It was perfect!

{Have faith in your dreams and someday/ Your rainbow will come shining through}

Munchkin’s eyes were as wide as the cake!


She loved it and I got so many compliments for it! And the slices, of course, were ginormous! But we went to Chuck E. Cheese so she had plenty of room to work off her sugar high.

chuck e cheese

Now the only problem is what to do for her 5th birthday party.

She told me she wants a Ninja Turtle birthday party and only Ninja Turtles can come. Oh and she wants to have a blueberry cake with pink, black, and blue frosting. That shouldn’t be too hard, right?

Melody Breaks The Night

Album Review: Melody Breaks the Night

Melody Breaks the Night, now available on iTunes and

Recently I was given the opportunity to review a new album by independent recording artist, Kyle Rowland. He just released his new album, Melody Breaks the Night, on October 6th, 2012. His debut album, Kyle Rowland, is also available to download on his site and iTunes.

Kyle describes himself as “a trumpet player blending jazz, popular and dance music to make people happy.“[sic]

I think he’s hit the mark on this album. While I don’t think it’s for everyone, (it’s hard for me to imagine techno/jazz being played between Justin Bieber or Gotye on the radio) I do think that the music is upbeat and there is a lot of positivity behind each track.

One of my favorite things about each track is all the different layers that are combined. Whether it’s the crowd murmurs and drumstick clicks in Beat Viking, or the various beats and sounds from In the Beginning, there’s a tapestry of sound that’s been smoothly woven together.

The most surprising part (for me) was how well the trumpet fits into each song. I honestly thought trumpets, techno and jazz had no business being mixed together. Listening to this album was a lot like watching Iron Chef or Chopped. You think, “How the heck is anyone going to make an edible desert out of spinach and canned sardines?”

And then you are just blown away by the results.

Explain that, Alton Brown!

I don’t have an extensive history with instrumental tracks. I can’t play anything more complicated than air guitar or a kazoo (I’m still easy bass on Rock Band) so I can’t give you any technical terms for what he puts together in this album. But I can tell you that each track on the album feels like a different story or maybe chapters from an novel. Because the album is currently four songs long (Kyle is going to be uploading free followup tracks on his website as he completes them) I decided that I would give you guys the ideas it inspired for me and compare them to Kyle’s.

Here are the songs in the order they show up on the album:

Beat Viking

This song is definitely the best to start with and I think it probably has the strongest use of the trumpet. It gives you a very good idea of what Kyle’s sound is like: a layering of different elements with a trumpet. Even though this is my least favorite of the four, I found myself humming it while going about my day.

This song starts out with a crowd murmuring and I picture an open mic night at a coffee shop. The trumpet steps up to the microphone and it has a story to tell. I think it’s a story of triumph and bravado, but because it’s a trumpet and it doesn’t really use words, you might get a different idea.

The trumpet bares its soul to the coffee shop and the patrons pause every now and then to pay some attention. There’s no way they can’t; the trumpet is giving a strong performance and has some really good stuff to say. But after a while, the crowd’s murmur picks back up and the patrons go back to discussing whatever it is people discuss while they’re having coffee. However, this isn’t a setback for the trumpet. This was his first performance and, really, he just wanted to get through it without throwing up or forgetting his notes. Some people even nodded along, so it went well above his expectations.

Next time though…

Next time he will wow them. He will blow their socks off.

Kyle’s Explanation: “It’s a reference to my favorite coffee shop that inspired it…Poulsbohemian.” (A/N: Poulsbo is a Norwegian town here in Washington.)

Full Time Job (A/N: My sister renamed it “Problem Sleuth without the Problem”. I think either title would work.)

This song starts softly. When I listen to it, I imagine someone taking a walk on a cold day. They have somewhere to go. They have stuff to do but they are not rushing. Yes, it’s a little chilly so they pick up the pace, but the stuff will get done when they arrive so there’s not a real hurry. When the song ends, it’s very similar to how it started. It’s very easy to imagine the beginning of the song as someone waking up in the morning just as the sun is beginning to rise and the end is that person coming home and looking forward to another day tomorrow.

I definitely preferred the trumpet more in this song than in Beat Viking. It wasn’t overbearing. The trumpet is not trying to grab your attention or tell you what is going on. It’s just doing its job: making music. There’s one part of the song where I kept thinking of that song Brick by Ben Folds Five. You know the one I mean:

Unlike Brick, Full Time Job isn’t sad or about feeling alone. It’s slow-paced but optimistic. There is a brick in this song but it’s not dragging anyone down; it’s keeping them anchored and focused. There is hard work and it’s tedious but it’s a job that they love. On good days, there’s nothing else they’d rather be doing. And today happens to be one of those days.

Kyle’s Explanation: Fulltime Job is basically a realization that I came to – that music was like another job for me, and that I should just accept that.

Garden City

Garden City is hands down my favorite track on the album. If Beat Viking is about proving yourself and Full Time Job is about getting to where you need to be, Garden City is about getting stuff DONE.

This is seriously amazing montage music. Not the cheesy montages like Karate Kid.

This is legit, Homestuck worthy montage music.

This is, the-planet’s-being-blown up,-your-house-is-being-burned-down,-you’re-having-a-showdown-with-your-brother-on-the-roof-while-the-existence-of-the-universe-hangs-on-the-outcome-of-your-actions music.

(you might not get it)

Seriously, watch this flash sequence on mute with Garden City playing instead. It fits so well.

Or just, you know, I’m-in-the-middle-of-writing-an-album-review-and-I-want-to-get-it-DONE music. (In other words, I had this on repeat while I was writing and will probably use it anytime I write anything ever again.)

The song starts off with a fast steady beat that’s combined with some kind of keyboard(?) tune. You start getting a buildup in the song as the beat fades out and a whirring noise takes its place, telling you to get ready because–

BAM! — at the 1:22 mark the beat comes back louder, the pace has picked up and man, you have SO much that is getting done, it is ridiculous.

At this point, it really doesn’t seem like anything else is needed. You could probably just listen to this on repeat for the next two or three minutes and be happy.

Unlike the other songs, I don’t think the trumpet stands out quite as much. It has maybe two “verses” in the whole song but the timing for it is well-planned. Like I said, this is a fast-paced song. It definitely feels more like techno than jazz. In fact, I remember hoping he’d skip the trumpet. If it was played similarly to Beat Viking, it might make the song awkward or it clunk up the beat. However, the most surprising part (and a testament to Kyle’s mad music skillz) is that when the trumpet was brought in, it was placed subtly enough to give you a chance to catch your breath and not burn out. Which is good because after the second trumpet “verse”, you’re starting to build up steam again and then–

WHOA!! — 3:39 hits and you’ve hit a second wind. It’s not even a wind. It’s a tornado.

I don’t know how to describe it other than stuff isn’t just getting done, it’s DONE.

This would be the part of the rave where the laser lights come out and if you hadn’t been pacing yourself, you’d have a seizure.

If you’re working on paperwork, it’s typing itself.

If you’re Mickey Mouse and you’ve stolen a wizard’s hat, this is where you’ve gotten five million brooms to do your bidding. You’re almost to the point where it’s in such good hands that you’re thinking of taking a nap.

I think my favorite thing about this song is that while it is upbeat and fast paced it’s not a sugar rush. You don’t crash at the end. You can just start over because the pacing isn’t manic and it ends the same way it started: Awesome.

Kyle’s Explanation: Garden City is a reference to the Garden State – New Jersey- which is where I was when I wrote that one. Vacation at my in-laws.

In the Beginning

It’s a little ironic (to me) that the last song on the album is called In the Beginning. After the fast pace of Garden City this goes in the opposite direction. If Garden City is a fast paced work out, this song would be a relaxing soak in a hot tub. The trumpet is much more prominent in this track but again, it’s not overbearing and it complements the rest of the song.

Even though it’s slower paced, this song isn’t lazy. It has a steady pace, a strong beat and there’s a great contrast with the rain noises added in. It reminds me of the dungeon level of old school Nintendo games. It makes me think that I’m working after hours or getting ready to leave the office for the day.

dungeon level

I just have to get past the new security guard.

I think it was a good way to end the album. This song really shows how layering different elements together can make really interesting results.

Kyle’s Explanation: I don’t remember what I was thinking when I titled “In The Beginning” [I tell him my interpretation] Haha. That’s awesome – now THAT will be stuck in my head.

Melody Breaks the Night was definitely not something I would have thought to listen to but I’m glad I took the chance. I was surprised that I really enjoyed the trumpet throughout the album. It had a lot of personality. Even without words, the songs had a lot of positivity and I liked being able to interpret the album the way I wanted to.

So what was Kyle’s concept for this album?

“The idea of Melody Breaks The Night connects to the story of David playing the harp for Saul in the Old Testament – music has the ability to heal and to lift people up – and that’s what I want to do with my music and particularly this album.

The funny thing about the album title, I had the concept figured out a long time ago – I think I even had the album title.. but I forgot it.

I worked with the artist to make the cover art according to the concept so I felt stupid that I forgot what the original title was but then the current one came to me – and it was in line with the original concept – and I think probably matched the artwork a little closer too. The concept was always – the darkness of life crowding in around – with music making a path and lighting the way… sometimes forcefully.”

I think Melody Breaks the Night lives up to those expectations and still has room to let others figure out their own ideas. It’ll appeal to people who regularly listen to movie and video game soundtracks. And it’s great for writers and artists struggling with a mental block. While it probably won’t make the radio’s Top 40, I think it will appeal to people who want music that is more than just background noise covering up silence.


I’ve Been Productive! (a.k.a I Wrote This Post Sometime Last Year)

I’m still working on my moleskine-esque notebook. And while I was at the craft store, I found this other amazing company!!:

I was so amazed after I watched the video. I felt like they had read my mind. And the products all have a little barcode thingy that you can scan that takes you to their product blog.
There’s SO many fun ideas to look at on there!
Anywho, I started going back and forth on whether or not I wanted to spend the money on one of their notebooks, since it seemed pretty perfect for what I wanted to do. I held the notebooks and oohed and ahhed over the pretty pages. I eyeballed the pen greedily (it has a glue stick on the other side). And I could not get over all the cute little side stuff they had: tape, dividers, stamps, pockets…
*le sigh*
I sound like I’m advertising for them. Which I’m totally not.
I decided that even though the notebook was really cute, I didn’t need to spend $15 on something that I sort of already had. That’s gas money, yo.
But I did end up buying the pens (you can get them individually) and some subject tabs.
Yes, I bought three pens. They come in three colors, okay?
And, I happened to have a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase and all the scrap booking stuff was already 40% off. So even though I shelled out like five of my hard earned dollars, normally all that stuff would have been like…$15??
I dunno. I’m bad with math.
Either way–I don’t regret my decision because my book looks awesome.
Here’s what I have so far:




The general idea is still that this book is kind of more to help me plan things out than as a way to spend hard earned money on craft supplies and other such amazing frivolous purchases.
I remember reading somewhere that part of the reason sites like pinterest are popular is because they give the users a feeling of accomplishment every time they pin something. It makes you feel like you actually did buy that dress or those shoes and everyone can still admire you for picking them out, but you didn’t actually spend the money.

Which, I think, makes sense.
I’m a broke, single mom.
I live with my parents.
And I work a part time job that doesn’t give me enough hours.
I actually really love my workplace. My coworkers are awesome, our products are amazing, and if I had thirty hours a week, I’d be making enough for me and Munchkin to go off on our own.
I’m not going to be getting a full time job anytime soon. I’d like the money and independence, sure. But I hate the idea of putting Munchkin in some kind of daycare for 8 hours a day. Maybe I am clingy. I don’t know.
I know that growing up, I didn’t care that my parents were never around. That’s just how it was. They had to work. My sister and I went to the Boys and Girls Club or to some baby-sitters and we’d see my parents when we saw them.
The problem I have now is that even though I didn’t raise myself (obviously) I still feel like I had to figure out all the big stuff out on my own. I didn’t talk to my parents about stuff. They weren’t around or were busy. When they actually did start poking their nose into my stuff, it just felt like too little, too late. I spent years building up my wall, I’m not interested in taking it down.
To this day, I still don’t know how to talk to them. It’s an honest effort just to have a normal conversation with them. That’s not to say I don’t love or respect them. I just know that my problems are my problems and there’s better ways for me to figure out how to solve them.
Like blabbing about it on the interwebz, where anybody could find it.
Or scrapbooking/smashbooking.
(haha! See what I did there?)
So, yeah. Soap boxing aside, I’ve been trying to really sit down and figure out what this disgruntled feeling that I have is.

And as I look over what I’ve glued together so far:
…what I’m seeing is a need for stability.
I mean, yes. I want shiny things. And I’d love a cozy little home by the beach with Munchkin and Baby Daddy. But what I really want is that feeling that I don’t have to figure things out for myself. I’d like to really be able to be there for Munchkin so that when she has problems, (not just oh em gee! My car won’t start!) she will come talk to me about them. And after we’ve talked about them, even if they’re not problems that can be talked away, I’ll want her to feel like, “Well, at least, Mom gets it.”
Or at the very least, we can look through my mountainous collage of crap and she might find something in there to help her out.


Truly Truly Outrageous.

Wow…So, I haven’t actually posted anything in a really long time.

It’s not for lack of trying, I just haven’t written anything good. I seem to be going through somewhat of a dry spell. And I’ve been watching a lot of cartoons with my daughter.

A lot of cartoons.

I kind of feel like a cartoon snob now.

You know how there’s those food critics and like, wine snobs who can rattle off inconsequential things that a normal person wouldn’t care about but they do because they’re food critics and wine snobs?

That’s me, but with cartoons.

And since the whole life-improvement thing is in the “let’s wait and see what happens, hopefully things are gonna work out, maybe, cross your fingers, hold your breath and try not to get your hopes up” phase, I thought it’d be fun to start blogging about something fun and light-hearted. And that’s when I decided on:

Because Jem is excitement and adventure.

And what could possibly be better than glamour and GLITTER, fashion and fame?! (notice the alliteration? Isn’t it genius?! Oh Jem, your lyrics have so much depth!)

And her music truly is contagious. Truly.

Ok, so technically, that was The Stingers and they don’t actually show up until the third season but just try and listen to that song only once. I can pretty much guarantee, even if the song hasn’t just burned holes into your brain, you’re going to have to watch the music video a few more times.

And I know you now have a million questions that need to be answered. Questions such as:

  • Why is there an early nineties mid-eighties cartoon set in Greece?
  • Who is that David Bowie/Sigfried & Roy love child?
  • Why is he singing about destiny and is he supposed to be turning me on?
  • Why does that chick with the long blonde hair look like she’s going to eat the guy with the purple hair?
  • Are we not supposed to question that there’s a guy with purple hair and a girl with hot pink hair?
  • Are they even allowed to have that much kissing in a cartoon geared towards elementary school girls?

And most importantly…

What is this crack and how can I get some?!

And, yes, my friend, I will share this awesome crack with you. I will even attempt to answer most of those questions. However, a lot of them can’t be answered until you’ve truly learned to appreciate how outrageous Jem is.

Just to give you an idea, Jem was EVERYTHING I wanted to be when I was little.jem

This was so gonna be me when I grew up. So what if Jem’s not Mexican? Don’t be racist.

She was way prettier and SO much cooler than Barbie.

And the thing I loved even more than her great taste in fashion, deeply moving lyrics, and state of the art technology, was the outrageous love triangle between Jerrica, Rio, and Jem.

Seriously, what eight year old girl wouldn’t think that was the most romantic thing on earth? The only way it could have been better would have been if there were two guys fighting over Jem…

Oh wait!

That is the triangle of Rio, Jem, and Riot. Although, technically, it’s more of a love quadrangle, since Rio is supposed to be dating Jerrica but again, I’ll explain all of that later.

Are you confused yet?

I’m not gonna lie, it’s been almost twenty years since I first met Jem and I’m still in love with the potential that all these characters have. Eight year old me couldn’t even begin to appreciate the awesomeness that Jem represented. And even though my two year old baby girl will get super hyper and start dancing around the living room anytime she hears the Jem theme song, her tiny baby brain (as genius as it is) isn’t meant to understand it either.

I, however, am an adult and I thrive off of living vicariously through melodramatic fictional characters.

And another thing, this show is called Jem! Not Riot. Your hair is not allowed to be bigger than mine!

“Riot, I don’t care that I totally agreed to go on a three day cruise to Mexico. You forged a postcard from me and sent it to all my friends so that they’d think I ran off with you FOREVER! And then crashed us onto a deserted island when I got tired of watching you water ski and tried to escape back to the US. Rio found us even though the Mexican Coast Guard thought we were dead! Obviously, he truly loves me. Even if he is technically Jerrica’s boyfriend.”

I guess the question is, are you ready to be swept up in the magic and mayhem that is Jem?

You’ve found this blog…

And you know you wanted to watch that video again. The song is catchy!